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Honoring Our Ancestors
December 18, 2019


Greetings Fellow Family History Sleuths,

Should you manage to find a little downtime over the holidays, you'll find some fun genealogical tales to browse here, starting with one about an unexpected Christmas surprise. There's some good news for genealogists with Irish and/or Mississippi roots, but also a heads up about a proposed price hike ($625?!) for immigration-related records (please go comment if you haven't already). You'll also find another soldier identification, as well as a nudge to get your application in for one of the last few Seton Shields Genealogy Grants. Should you feel so inclined, please consider sharing this newsletter and inviting your genie friends to subscribe (it's free!). But most of all, please accept my wishes for a happy, safe, cozy and memorable holiday season!

Until next time, keep on sleuthing!



Christmas Present

(A little sample of the kind of tales you'll find in this book)

When my mother was 11 and her only sister was four, a fire consumed their house the day after Christmas, taking the young girls’ mother and destroying all of the family’s possessions. As people somehow manage to do, the family picked up the pieces and the girls grew to adulthood and raised their own families.

About 25 years ago, I began searching for my family’s roots, but gave up due to plain frustration. Seven years ago, I decided to resume the search as my aunt had become depressed since my mother’s death and seemed desperate to reassemble whatever shreds of her family she could.

Hoping they might be able to help, I called a Texas genealogical society in the area the family had moved to in 1901. The woman who responded said she didn’t have much to offer beyond the name of a woman from Arizona who had signed the society’s guest book noting that she was researching the same surname. I allowed a flicker of hope to come alive in me!

With some sleuthing, I found this woman in Arizona, but it turned out to be a dead end as there was obviously no connection between our families. Trying to ease my obvious disappointment, she told me she had kept a napkin with the name of a woman from New Jersey whom she had met while doing research in Texas two years earlier. Maybe this woman would share my line.

I wasn’t especially optimistic, but seeing no alternatives, decided to find and contact this woman. I called her and – success! We were related, but the best was yet to come! As luck would have it, she had just received a photo of her grandfather and mine as small boys the day before I called her! She sent it overnight to me, and I immediately overnighted it to my aunt with no warning that it was coming.

On Christmas Eve, she received a piece of the past that had been stolen from her all those years before in that post-Christmas fire. It was the first photo she had ever seen of her father as a youngster. All the other photos of the first 40 years of his life had burned in the fire. This little Christmas miracle was easily the best present I have ever given her.

This story, told by Marti Walker of Oklahoma, was originally published in the book In Search of Our Ancestors: 101 Inspiring Stories of Serendipity and Connection.

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Seton Shields Genealogy Grants

Seton Shields, pictured above, was my remarkable mother. Naming this grants program after her is one small way to keep her memory alive, though she’s no longer with us.

I'll be considering applications for next quarter soon, so here's a reminder to get yours in if you've been intending to. Generally, grant applications remain active for 6 months, but since the program will be winding down in 2020, any made from this point on will stay under consideration until the end.

You can apply for a Seton Shields grant here. Be sure to check out the cool projects I’ve had the opportunity to contribute to over the years, plus an article that will give you a behind-the-scenes peek into my grants program. And remember, the clock is ticking!

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Genealogy Round Up, December 11

Photo Credit: Trinity College Dublin

Retrieval of Irish archive lost in 1922 fire ‘astounding’, historian says – It's my, 2022!

The Butcher, the Baker, the Candlestick-Maker: The story of Britain through its census, since 1801 – Gift idea for any genies from UK or with British roots

Steve Lanza: Ancestral Songs – If you’ve got Newfoundland roots, you might want to give this a listen

Records, Not Revenue: Don't Hold Our History Hostage – If you haven't yet, please add your comments and contact your reps about this proposed rate hike. $625 is crazy expensive for an ancestor's immigration records, don't you think?

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Genealogy Round Up, December 4

Photo Credit: The U.S. Army

Soldier Accounted For From Korean War (Lacsamana, M.) – Welcome home, Sgt. Maximiano Tubig Lacsamana. Honored to have researched your family. My first Filipino case back in 2011.

From National Geographic: Important Update for Genographic Project Customers – Genographic joining the ranks of deCODEme, SMGF, and so many other genetic entities that have come and gone (darndest thing - Oxford Ancestors is still out there).

Don't Hold Our History Hostage – Fellow genealogists, historians, immigration activists, FOIA users, and friends of open records, please check out this important site re: proposed USCIS price hikes. $625 for a single file???

Reclaim The Records Publishes the Mississippi Death Index (1912-1943) – I'm a little uncomfortable asking folks to donate to "my" causes.

All that said, Reclaim the Records has done so much for all of us - not least of which are these recently launched Mississippi death indexes - so if you are planning to donate in support of any special causes this season, please consider Reclaim The Records!

P.S. Full disclosure: I'm on the board, but can't take credit for the magic this organization works. But yeah, I *am* biased.

Always fun to trip across something charming when you're researching something less so! This 3-generation family tradition (pictured below) fits the bill.

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Upcoming Events

After traveling around and speaking in 40 states and half a dozen countries, I decided to take a breather from the road to tend to some projects. That said, I'm sharing exceptions here. And by the way, you can see if I’ll be in your area any time by checking my Events Calendar.

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